What's Open in Chicago for Kids Right Now

Can you trust your eyes at the Museum of Illusions? Photo by Jody Mercier
Can you trust your eyes at the Museum of Illusions? Photo by Jody Mercier

We are open! Or at least, working on it... All regions of Illinois are now in Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois Plan—almost all businesses, restaurants, and even indoor play spaces are allowed to open, with limited capacity. It can be a little tricky to know what has opened already, what is about to, and what the rules are. So we prepared a list of all the fabulous places that are now open in Chicago where you can take your kids. We've also tracked what safety measures these places are taking, and anything else families need to know before visiting (like if a destination requires or recommends buying tickets or making reservations online before you go).

We've all learned how quickly things can change (and in Chicago there's always the possibility of places closing because of extreme cold or snow), so please double-check before bundling kids up and loading them in the car.

While we are trying to promote safer activities that occur outdoors or with social distancing guidelines in place, please keep your family and others safe by always wearing a mask and maintaining appropriate distance. If you arrive at an event that appears too crowded try using the “nearby” search feature on our event calendar to find something else to do.

The Shedd Aquarium is now open. Photo courtesy of the aquarium

Museums for Kids That are Now Open in and around Chicago

  • Museum of Contemporary Art
    The MCA is back! Check the website for the latest information.
  • Field Museum
    Have your kids missed Sue, the most complete T-rex skeleton ever found, or maybe the mummies and bugs? They're back on display, with more than 100 hand sanitizing stations and flooring markings to encourage social distancing. Purchase timed tickets online and plan to carry your coat—the coat check is closed.
  • Shedd Aquarium
    Aquatic life from tropical fish to penguins charms kids of all ages. Timed tickets are available for purchase from 9am-6pm, and guests must wear masks and follow one-way directions through the galleries to prevent crowding
  • Art Institute of Chicago
    Two limited-time exhibits featuring artists Monet and Bisa Butler are on display at this cultural institution. Advanced tickets are required, and smaller galleries, coat check, and restaurants are closed.
  • Museum of Illusions Chicago
    This new museum barely had time to open before the fall wave of COVID-19, so its unique exhibits that twist reality in your vision have hardly been seen. Timed tickets, masks, and following the directional signs are required.
  • International Museum of Surgical Science
    Budding scientists may enjoy this small, quirky museum in the Old Town neighborhood. Reservations are recommended, but not required. Visitors must wear masks.
  • LEGOLAND Discovery Center
    Finally, tiny bricks for your kids to play with outside of your house, where you won't step on them barefoot! The museum has 12 attractions and rides and a 4D Lego cinema, all open.
  • Elmhurst Art Museum
    Now open! The museum recommends advanced reservations for non-members. Take-home art kits are often available.
  • Chicago History Museum
    This Old Town standby is open at 25% capacity. Advanced tickets are encouraged. Current exhibits include "American Medinah" and "Remembering Dr. King."
  • Museum of Science and Industry
    Visit the baby chicks, giant railroad, fairy house, and U-505 submarine live and in person. The "Marvel: Universe of Superheroes" exhibit is the first exhibit on display,a nd will be in town through October.
  • DuPage Children's Museum
    This Naperville destination is open for private play. Choose from two different experiences for groups of up to 20 children.
  • Kohl Children's Museum
    Currently open for private VIP sessions only through May 16, but keep an eye on their website for announcements about the SummerBurst outdoor program, coming soon.
  • Museums We're Still Tracking
    The Adler Planetarium plans to stay closed until Phase 5 (when vaccinations are available to everyone). The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum has also not announced a reopening date. And several of Chicago's smaller museums have not yet announced plans to reopen. We're on it, and will add them to the list here as soon as announcements are made.

Now Open in Chicago for Kids Right Now: Indoor Play Spaces and Stores where Kids Can Play
Safari Land is a big indoor play center where kids can run wild, while staying warm. Photo courtesy Safari Land

Indoor Play Spaces That are Open Now in Chicago

Just in time for the coldest weather of winter, we can play inside again! Many of Chicago's indoor play spaces have reopened, but several are limited to private play reservations. We will update our listings to reflect changes as businesses continue to open.

  • LEGO Store Water Tower Place
    Little master builders can experiment to their hearts' content, within COVID guidelines, at this Mag Mile shopping destination. It's right across the hall from...
  • American Girl Store Water Tower Place
    The store is taking reservations for favorite events for girls and their dolls, such as fan-favorite Hair and Nail Spectacular. Face coverings are required.
  • PLAY at Yorktown Center
    Equipment is being more frequently sanitized at this mall play space in West Suburban Lombard. Bonus: Girl Scouts will be selling cookies at the mall during select weekends in February and March. 
  • Harold Washington Library Thomas Hughes Children's Library
    Check out a book, or stay for a little playtime. Storytime is not currently taking place, and masks are required.
  • Knoch Knolls Nature Center
    Open Saturdays only as of January 26, this water-themed nature center features a 900-gallon fish tank. Visitors must attend in groups of 10 or less, and masks and social distancing are required.
  • Nelly's Playground
    This west suburban play space is open at a limited capacity for little kids to climb and play.
  • Safari Land
    Reservations are recommended at this Villa Park indoor play center. Attractions will be wiped down between uses.
  • Enchanted Castle
    An arcade with some extras including indoor mini golf, bumper cars, laser tag, and mini bowling delights kids in the western suburbs.

Now Open in Chicago for Kids Right Now: Climb, Swim, and Skate Inside
Now there are fun ways for kids to exercise beyond playing in the snow. Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Boulder Chicago

Indoor Sports and Activities Now Open for Kids near Chicago

  • Indoor Pools in and around Chicago
    Warm up with a swim day pass or stay over for a staycation at one of Chicago's hotel destinations. Many require advanced registration.
  • Pinstripes
    Bowling, bocce, and dining are open with limited capacity in Chicago, Northbrook, South Barrington, and Oak Brook. Reservations are recommended.
  • Brooklyn Boulders
    Both the Lincoln Park and West Town locations are currently open. High-touch surfaces in the gym are cleaned hourly with electrostatic sprayers, and sanitizing liquid chalk is used at the gyms. Masks are required.
  • The Strike Zone
    Indoor batting cages on the North Shore are ready to replicate summer. Cages are available for $35 per half hour.
  • Asylum Skate Park
    Learn to skate indoors before the summer skating season starts at this Skokie park.
  • iFly Indoor Skydiving
    The Lincoln Park, Rosemont, and Naperville locations are all open for daredevils who might not want to dive through the 15 degree clouds.

Places To See a Movie at a Theater That Is Open Now

Most movie theaters are open and operating at 25%. Movie-goers are required to wear a mask and socially distance while in the theaters. At AMC and Marcus theaters guests are still able to book private theatre rentals for a personal film showing for small groups.

  • Chi-Town Movies
    This soccer stadium turned drive-in offers lots of unique concessions and a movie experience in your car, even in the coldest conditions.
  • AMC Movie Theaters
    More than two dozen Chicago area locations are reopening with reduced capacities and menus.
  • Marcus Theaters 
    Reserve a seat or a whole theater (for $149) at this chain's locations in Addison, Chicago Heights, Country Club Hills, Elgin, Gurnee, and Orland Park.

Escape Rooms for Kids in Chicago

  • Fox in a Box
    Families or parents can enjoy this South Loop escape room, which is offering staggered start times and limited capacity to increase social distancing.
  • Noggin Builders Kids Escape Room
    Book your adventure in advance for this kid-forward escape room located inside Northbrook Court.
  • Escape Factor Chicago
    This River Forest escape room has rooms themed after tree houses and game shows. Game start times are staggered and each room includes only people from the same party. 

Now Open in Chicago for Kids Right Now: Trampoline Parks
Get ready for tired kids at naptime! Urban Air Adventure Park

Trampoline Parks in Chicago

  • SkyZone
    Get your kids to jump off something that isn't your furniture at locations in Elmhurst, Aurora, Vernon Hills, and Orland Park.
  • Urban Air Adventure Park
    Trampolines, virtual reality, ropes courses, and rock climbing give your kids a chance to burn off some energy at these parks in North Riverside, Bloomingdale, Naperville, St. Charles, Mokena, and Crystal Lake.

Theme Parks near Chicago

  • Six Flags Great America
    The thrills and chills are back when the park opens on April 24.
  • Hurricane Harbor
    Chicago's thrilling waterpark is opening up for the season on May 29, just in time for summer fun.

Farm Experiences Now Open in and around Chicago

Places To See Animals That are Open in or near Chicago

  • Cosley Zoo
    This smaller West Suburban zoo is perfect for a cold winter day and has already reopened to the public. Timed tickets are required.
  • Brookfield Zoo
    Brookfield Zoo is open and requires timed entry tickets, and buildings will remain closed.
  • Lincoln Park Zoo
    This favorite local zoo is now open to the public.

Now Open in Chicago for Kids Right Now: Restaurants with Indoor Dining, Outdoor Patios, and More
Eat inside, eat outside, eat in a greenhouse or igloo—the options are endless. Photo courtesy Aba Restaurant

Parks and Playgrounds Now Open in Chicago

Playgrounds are reopening! During the last week of February, the city announced that the lakefront would open first, and in the weeks to follow the park district will open more than 500 outdoor playgrounds and nature play spaces. But until your local playground is open (or it's warm enough to play on the icy equipment), try one of these walks...

  • Chicago Riverwalk
    Reopened just in time to turn the river green, the Chicago Riverwalk is a great place for a stroll when it's not too snow-covered.
  • Chicago Lakefront Trail
    The 18 miles of path are usually plowed and provide stunning views for families. 
  • The 606
    The reused former train tracks are now an interesting 2.7-mile path through the Bucktown area.
Snowtrekking in the Nature Sanctuary at Burnham Park
Burnham (Daniel) Park - 10:00 AM Pick
Disney On Ice Presents Frozen and Encanto
Allstate Arena - various times Pick
Free Days at the DuSable Museum of African American History
The DuSable Museum of African American Art - 10:00 AM
The Three Little Pigs
Beverly Arts Center - 10:30 AM
Neighborhood Guides
Activity Guides